What Is A Trichoplax?

A Trichoplax is one of the simplest organisms you can find. It has no discernible organs or structure, and is basically a flat blob of tissue that moves around. Is it alive? I don't know. But I thought I'd ruminate on other conundrums in this space.

I Agree


Homelessness has always been a mystery to me and I've been curious about the motives (if there are any) behind the lifestyle. At first blush, homelessness seems to be something people choose. How could it not be when there are so many programs and opportunities to leave the lifestyle? As this article points out, though, things are not as simple as that.

The gist of it is that the homeless lifestyle is dangerous and hard, and shelters don't alleviate much of that. More importantly, the article points out that homelessness is not as much of a choice as we (yes, I'm included in that) make it out to be. Whether it's mental illnesses, difficult family situations, alcohol or substance abuse, the people out on the street are a suffering lot. Often, it seems, homeless people "choose" their lot, only in the sense that they chose a way out of a difficult situation into a different difficult situation.

I think that, too often, we make assumptions about a person's situation. I was reminded of this when reading through a humorous list (beware, strong language in that link) of ways our "common sense" lies to us. The linked website talks about numerous fallacies, such as the "Nirvana Fallacy", or "Special Pleading". The Nirvana Fallacy is defined as when you "dismiss anything in the real world because you compare it to an unrealistic, perfect alternative, by which it pales in comparison", for example: "You gave that homeless guy a sandwich? Ha! Like that's really going to fix poverty!" Special Pleading is simply when we "allow something to be an exception to a rule, for no logical reason," for example: "I know I was a heroin addict, but this is different. It's meth." If you read through the explanations you'll realize that the "Nirvana Fallacy" is really cynicism and laziness, and "Special Pleading" is really hypocrisy, or sometimes lack of empathy. And in the end, "common sense" is really human nature.

All that to say, reading about why homeless people remain homeless people reminded me that all too often I don't try to put myself in other people's shoes. Too often I don't give people the benefit of a doubt that I would like to be given to me. Maybe that rude cashier might simply be irritable because she's going through a rough divorce with an abusive husband. Maybe that guy who just cut me off on I-24 is late for an interview and needs to feed his family. I'm not saying that justifies any bad behavior, and I'm not forgetting the fact that some people really are mean or rude for no good reason. But is it a bad thing to have an extra measure of grace for people?

Of course, Jesus knew all of this when he said, "in the same way you judge others, you will be judged," and "Do to others as you would have them do to you." He lived this too. He drew in the dirt, waiting for the first man who deemed himself righteous enough to cast judgement on the adulteress by condemning her to a stoning. He looks on us with those eyes of mercy, and perhaps we will look on others the same.